In recent years when I told someone I am Astros fan, I always felt like I was confessing something. It's as if I'm at a Baseball Fans Anonymous meeting. "Hi, I'm Terri and I'm an Astros fan," and everyone would reply in kind, "Hi, Terri."
Of course, the past few years I needed a support group. Whether it was all of you here reading Crawfish Boxes, or the gang on twitter as we watched really bad baseball or in live conversation with fellow fans, there was a camaraderie that got us through the worst of Astros baseball.
But this season is different. The Astros are the first MLB team to 30 wins, they have the best record in the AL, the pitchers are getting out of jams, the defense is rock solid, the offense is producing despite holes. I am left wondering, why am I waiting for the other shoe to drop?
expectation noun ex·pec·ta·tion \ˌek-ˌspek-ˈtā-shən, ik-\
: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
Expectation is a funny thing. It can be expectation of good events or bad. I can be waiting for the Astros to prove to all of baseball that it's time to take them seriously or I can be waiting for them to start playing like a Little League team and prove to all of baseball that they still aren't quite ready and that the first quarter of the season was a fluke.
I want to be the person who is expecting success, but somehow, every game I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Don't get me wrong - I am enjoying the wins immensely. I love watching the double plays that are the norm. I love watching the home runs and steals. I love watching a pitching duel and Dallas Keuchel's success. It's been a tremendously fun season to be an Astros fan thus far. Baseball is FUN!
Perhaps it's just that it all seems like so much so soon. I remember a couple of years ago hashtagging all of my Astros tweets with #Astros2015. It was me hanging onto a future, to hope. Even as I typed it I didn't think it would be like this. I just looked forward to a season with talent on the field. I certainly didn't think 2015 would be the year the Houston Astros shut up all the critics, the year that Jeff Luhnow's plan came full circle.
But let's face it, the critics aren't all on team Houston yet. They're starting to take notice. Some are starting to say, "We all knew this was coming." But I have a sneaking suspicion that, like me, they are wondering if it can last until October. Look, I know that I'll take some flack for stating all of this publicly. I'm supposed to just enjoy the wins, but now that I have these expectations that the Astros play well, get out of jams, and win? It's like my heart is out on the line again.
There is more strength yet to come with this team. We all know that Carlos Correa is just around the corner. Jed Lowrie will come back off the DL in time. Brett Oberholtzer will resolve his blister issue. There is depth and there is talent to feed the major league team should it need support.
So why am I so tentative when it comes to the success of this team? I suppose it all comes back to a broken heart. The Astros, like a crummy boyfriend, weren't fair to me as a fan. They let me down. And although that was another time and another place, sometimes it's hard to put your heart out there completely again, even for your baseball team.
I'll keep watching. I'll keep cheering and I imagine that with each home run, with each pitcher getting out of a jam, with each double play and with each win, my resolve will strengthen. I'll trust this team an inch more each day.
My expectations are morphing into those of a fan of a winning team, but that doesn't happen overnight. I'd still wager that I am a bigger Astros fan than most, that my dedication to this team has been proven, that I will always cheer for the orange and blue. I don't think we can expect everyone to forget the past few seasons easily.
Just like that crummy boyfriend who broke my heart, the Astros have to earn back my trust. So in the meantime, I'm holding my breath a little each game...and cheering very loud when they win.